As I reflect on my final paper for my Masters coursework, I can’t think of a better topic to close with than how I will effectively support struggling readers in my first grade classroom. As a result of doing this research, I feel prepared and informed to take on the task of implementing an effective reading instruction program that considers the needs of struggling readers or students afflicted with dyslexia.
In particular, I am encouraged to learn that good support for a student with reading difficulties or dyslexia is simply an effective classroom reading program that implements frequent focus reading groups, multisensory education, and use of assessments to set individual and attainable goals. The statistic is one in five students will struggle with dyslexia. As a first grade teacher I can intervene to help students get the support they need to learn to read and write before low self-esteem and depression begins to damage academic achievement. As I step into my role as a public school teacher, I hope to optimize all possible resources to provide students with the best possible reading support.
According to Moshman (2010), rationality is the ability to imagine and consider the perspective of others, therefore moral rationality is an individual’s process of empathizing with another in tandem with considering the and acting with concern for the rights and welfare of others. Rational identity is the process of an individual identifying oneself as continually forming new beliefs relative to their environment, rather than attaching to a static self-identification. Finally, moral identity also requires non-attachment to a fixed sense of moral identity, but is the process of continually defining oneself as a moral agent, and acting in a manner that demonstrates respect for the welfare of others.
I think that Moshman’s theory is helpful in considering the various psychological elements that contribute to youth, and adults forming positive identities. I am not sure how applicable this theory is to the early primary age I will be teaching. I might be planting the seed for the concepts with social/emotional curricula that focus on cultivating and growing empathy and strong sense of self. If one considers Erikson’s age stages for first grade, I will be supporting children during a developmental period where they are developing a sense of competency, or sense that their work is meaningful. So, I think this is a good time to lay groundwork for empathetic practice, identification of choices that are morally sound. I hope to be teaching Second Step again next year (I am not sure if the school I will teaching in uses this curriculum) because I found this curriculum to be highly engaging, and have many built-in opportunities to reinforce the lessons throughout the day with music, puppets, and scripts. I think that the first grade students in general are more reflective about social/emotional learning than a kindergarten student. In other words, I think a first-grader is more likely to build social/emotional curricula into their subjective experience and use it in the development of rationality.
Moshman, D. (2010). Adolescent rationality and development: Cognition, morality, and identity (3rd edition). Retrieved from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/courses/EDU6655_60173201450/Moshman%202010%20-%20Adolescent%20Rationality%20and%20Development.pdf
This week, Professor Scheuerman (2014) discussed perspectives on Progressive education within the scope of describing the influence of the Enlightenment Period on modern American pedagogy. Progressive educators have been accused of being anemic in content, with a disproportionate focus on process. I agree with Professor Scheuerman that this is an unfair accusation. I have taught for a Progressive school for three years, and our curricula is rich. Teachers at this school have varied and deep academic knowledge backgrounds that they weave into all instruction. A dedicated team of teachers and administration collaborate to adapt highly effective, research-based curricula like Bridges Math and Columbia Teachers College Readers and Writers Workshop to a Progressive pedagogy. For example, in Bridges Math curriculum there is a great focus on process and helping students to develop skills for metacognition and articulation of mathematical concepts and the content is rigorous and relevant to student’s life experience. Teachers support students in productive discussions and explorations of relating math concepts to their holistic experience.
Another aspect of the Enlightenment Period’s influence I connected with is the classroom management philosophy that can be credited to thinkers like Herbart who was one of the first educational thinkers to propose that individuals need choice in the process and content of acquiring new knowledge. By providing a compelling curriculum that captures the imaginations of students and invites them to be constructive in a process of exploration, students take pride and ownership of new knowledge. According to Ellis (n.d.), providing students with creative outlets for expressing individual translations of new knowledge is essential to a persuasive classroom management style. I see children do this naturally when given subjects of interest, a structured inquiry task and then the freedom to explore their curiosities. I witness children constructing independent learning experiences outside of the classroom everyday. Recently, I observed my ten-year-old friend listening to music and choreographing dances in her living room with complete focus and joy. While experiencing discomfort while attempting a new process or exploring new content is a necessary component of learning, I believe the Progressive approach of providing opportunities for students to construct the journey to mastery is sustaining and meaningful.
Scheuerman, R. (Producer). (July, 2014). Session 6 podcast a: Johann Friedrich Herbart and the “circle of thought.” [Audio podcast].
Retrieved from https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/79839793/session%206%20podcast%20a.mp3
Overviews of Categories Common Conceptions of Adolescence
The four dominant discourses that are discussed in the Stevens et al. article are:
a. Cognitive Psychology Developmental Perspectives- a perspective that emphasizes what adolescents are lacking; i.e.- higher order thinking, hormonal balance, and self-regulation. The focus of this conception is controlling the individual.
b. Biomedicine: Pathologizing Perspectives- a perspective that historically pathologizes any adolescent profile that is outside of the “superior” hetero-normative adolescent.
c. Oppressed/ Resistant Bodies- a perspective that views adolescent individuals as easily duped by societal messages. The focus is on interrupting this societal trickery.
d. Unruly Youth: Postmodern Perspectives- a perspective that views adolescents as a homogeneous group with problems. The tendency with this perspective is for youth to be marginalized- not heard.
Erik Erikson posited that adolescence is a stage of critical identity formation. In Erikson’s age/stage model, adolescents are trying to make sense of themselves within a new understanding of social order. This critical grasping for sense of self incorporates budding awareness of sexuality, modeling after people who are admired, and gaining identity through accomplishments.
Erikson coined the concept of psychological moratorium- a period when adolescents take a “time-out” from their predictable path of commitments to travel or explore various endeavors. I think this assignment of psychological moratorium to modern Youth culture is dated. One must consider that it was the 1950’s when this expectation that an adolescent would take a little time out to veer off the “rational” path of life was accepted. In this place in history it is common for adults at all stages to take what would be called a psychological moratorium. Moreover, I don’t find this perspective to be considerate of the fact that taking time to explore the world and try out different jobs as a youth is not departing from making a commitment to life, it IS life. It has become rare for an individual in modern Western society to take hold of one occupation or location in life and stay with it until old age. Therefore, I don’t think it is useful to uphold a dated discourse that upholds exploration and experimentation in youth as disregard for commitment to self or a civilian life.
Stevens et al. recommend post structural concepts of discourse that are helpful in remedying any stagnant and controlling perspectives of adolescence. They posit that the most crucial reference for identity is the lived experience of the subject. This experience is steeped in specific social, cultural, and historical- and can only be known through our bodies, not from an external, archaic age/stage developmental framework.
Stevens, L.P., Hunter, L., Pendergast, D., Carrington, V., Bahr, N., Kapitzke, C., & Mitchell, J. (2007). Reconceptualizing the possible narratives of adolescence. The Australian Educational Researcher, 34(2), 107-127.
According to Dean et al. (2012), teachers can introduce methods for generating and testing hypotheses as a tool to strengthen cognitive processes in all learning, classroom and life. Hypothesizing, predicting, deducing, and theorizing are all cognitive processes that fit under the umbrella of testing and hypothesizing. Two thinking processes that can be taught to enable generation and testing of hypotheses are deduction and induction. Deduction involves students using prior knowledge of general rules to make a prediction. For example, if students look out the window and acknowledge that it’s raining they might deduce that they will need their rain jackets. Induction requires students to use information that they possess, or have been presented with to make inferences. The process of inferring requires more support and scaffolding on the teacher’s part to ensure that students are not getting caught in misconceptions about the subject matter.
One common example of induction in classroom instruction is when students make predictions about a literary piece based on the clues that a story offers. During my residency teaching with k/1 students last year, my mentor and I carefully modeled and supported the process of making inferences relative to a read aloud story. During a read-aloud we would ask students to make inferences based on their perceptions of pictures and text in a story. We would emphasize, or think aloud about key events in a story to support students’ inferences. We revisited the academic term “infer” with each read aloud and gave positive acknowledgement when students practiced inferring. Dean et al. (2012), emphasize that early primary students need consistent and easily accessible scaffolding to master the skill of inference. While initially reflecting on the practice of inferring as an instructional strategy, I confused it with the practice of predicting. One of my cohort mates politely made the distinction that predictions are made from information that is provided in a text, and inferences are a more complex comprehensive practice of reading into textual content to interpret meaning.
I plan to incorporate generating and testing hypotheses into all my curricula because this process is essential to thinking critically and problem solving in all facets of life. Furthermore, when an individual is challenged to generate and test hypotheses, they appropriate new knowledge to have personal meaning, which will support students in committing new knowledge to long-term memory.
Dean, et al. (2012). Classroom instruction that works. 2nd ed. ASCD. Alexandria, VA.
Horace Mann chose the path of teaching over a successful career as a lawyer because he believed in universal education, equal access to knowledge for all citizens regardless of social position. As Director of the Massachusetts Board of Education he wrote the “Annual Reports” that had a great influence on American Education. This work was revolutionary considering that during early to mid 1800’s universal education was not state law. In fact, most children growing up in politically and socially marginalized ethnic or cultural groups did not have the privilege of an education. Mann believed in the power of education to transform consumers into producers and raise the level of productivity by raising intelligence. According to Scheuerman (2014), Mann read his entire hometown, Franklin, Massachusetts, library as a youth. I think this says a great deal about Mann’s commitment to having a depth and breadth of knowledge to share with his future students. Perhaps he was seeking to know the perspectives of all the cultures that compose a learning community.
Ellis and Stuen (1998), address the history of multicultural education in America in terms of past mistakes educational reformers have imposed. Historically, the myriad cultures that compose America have been referred to as a “melting pot” and students have been asked to conform to a shared American identity. The problem with this model is the only shared American identity that exists is one of a complex collage of the myriad cultural identities that define American culture. Therefore, modern recommendations made by Gilliom and Remy are to involve multicultural education in all areas of curriculum, capitalize on local economies to show students micro-models- i.e. banks, stores, post offices, and work to understand all people to eliminate social problems. Rather than a “melting pot”, I prefer to think of American multicultural society as a “mixed salad”. As a teacher, it is our responsibility to ensure that all the precious ingredients in the salad have equal stage to be understood and appreciated. The cultural factors that Ellis and Stuen recommend a teacher consider when designing curriculum are gender, religious affiliation, geographical location, economics, race, and ethnicity. I would add to this that family structure and ability are essential considerations.
As a teacher, it is a great responsibility that young people are depending on us more than anyone in their lives to offer an education that empowers them with the tools they will need to be socially and occupationally successful on a global scale. I think utilizing as many resources as possible to bring engaging and current multicultural knowledge to my students is going to be the key to success. On a micro-level, I can facilitate opportunities for students to engage with local community members and associations. For example, Professor Scheuerman brought a local Nez Perce storyteller to his class to share the mythos of his indigenous tribe with students. On a micro-level, I can connect students with engaging lessons that illuminate global cultures. For example, I would like to design a fun unit that gives students the opportunity to Skype, and ask informative questions of a same-age class in another country. In conclusion, I believe the key to offering a responsible and dynamic multicultural education is never thinking that I know it all, and being willing to have conversations to promote understanding and celebration of all cultures. While taking a diversity in education course at Seattle Pacific University, I was turned on to a wonderful website written by the professor and a collaborator that offers advice and resources for educators who wish to be culturally responsible in their teaching. I would like to share a link to Dr. Caprice Hollins website Cultures Connecting: Addressing Race Relations in the 21st Century- http://culturesconnecting.com/. I have found this resource to be rich and wise in advice for how to be an effective multicultural educator.
Ellis, A.K. and Stuen, C.J. (1998). The interdisciplinary curriculum. Larchmont, New York: Eye on Education.
Scheuerman, R. (Producer). (2014a, August 7) Session 7 A: Horace Mann-Life & Philosophy [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://dl.dropbox.com/u/79839793/session%207%20podcast%20a.mp3
Scheuerman, R. (Producer). (2014b, August 7) Session 7 A: Horace Mann-“Annual Reports” [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://dl.dropbox.com/u/79839793/session%207%20podcast%20b.mp3
Scheuerman, R. (n.d.). Session 7: Practical and Universal Education. Retrieved fromhttp://mountainlightschool.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/session-2-ellis-schooling-and-education.pdf
Cheung and Lai (2012) examine the relationship between personal development self-efficacy (PDSE) and classroom teaching in secondary classrooms. Historically researchers have studied the influence of school guidance and counseling, and the impact of classroom instruction on PDSE has been ignored. Five domains of PDSE were defined in this study; understanding self, stress management, understanding others, handling setbacks and managing leisure time. Performance accomplishments, vicarious experiences, verbal expression, physiological and emotional states were the four instructional measures used to determine results. It was determined that students who are in a classroom that utilizes constructivist learning instructional strategies, and were told they are learning in a classroom designed to raise self-efficacy, showed the highest measures of PDSE.
The strength of this study is that the researchers chose to investigate a connection between PDSE and classroom instruction at all, considering this relationship has been given little attention in educational research. Another strength of this research is that students were asked if they feel improvements in self-efficacy after engaging in a program designed to strengthen this character in them. The researchers pulled a large sample of students and administered a thorough questionnaire that measured all aspects of PDSE. However, I agree with Cheung and Lai (2012) that implementing multiple measures could have reinforced this study. For example, an objective third party could have observed the students over time to determine PDSE growth.
From my experience of teaching in a school for three years that supports PDSE, I have a practical experience with the strong connection between classroom instruction and PDSE. This study reinforces and fortifies my plan to integrate strategies into my curriculum for building strong PDSE in all my students. I agree with Cheng and Lai (2012) that constructivist teaching gives students a sense of control over, not so much what, but how they are learning, and being transparent about how this helps students to have PDSE is essential. One example of PDSE development I have practiced during my internship is teaching Roots of Empathy. This program promotes social/emotional literacy through a yearlong educational relationship with a baby and their caretaker/s. Students learn about how babies develop and learn, and in turn reflect on their personal developmental journey. Students infer that everyone was once a vulnerable baby, needing to be cared for and stimulated in order to grow. Roots of Empathy has been shown to substantially reduce incidences of bullying and contribute to overall academic achievement in classrooms. I hope to welcome the Roots of Empathy program into my classroom in the future because I think it is a highly effective program for building personal development self-efficacy in students.
Cheung D., & Lai, E. (2013). The effects of classroom teaching on students’ self-efficacy for personal development, British Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 41:2, 164-177. Retrieved from:
https://bbwebprod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/courses/EDU6655_6017320145 0/Week%206%20Readings%20- %20Effects%20of%20Classroom%20Teaching.pdf